Tag Archives: man boobs

In praise of older men

10 Oct

gregory_peck

This time last year, at the tender age of 43, I admitted to some friends that I kissed a 60-year-old man. My friends, still in their 40s, had interesting responses. One of them sneered at me, but the other was curious. “What was it like?” he asked. “It was fantastic,” I said.

The gent in question had flown into Toronto that day from the UK, to attend a posh business/cocktail party associated with his work that I happened to be at. We had a wonderful conversation, and before I knew it, we were the only guests remaining. After bidding the hosts adieu, we shared a taxi back into the city and had a couple of drinks at his hotel bar. Like many women, I fell under the spell of a man who excited my mind, and a man who wanted to hear what I had to say, and I wanted to show my appreciation.

I invited myself up to his room under the guise of wanting to see what they’d done to the building since renovating it into a hotel/residence. After looking at the view and talking about the action on the street below, I sat down beside him and asked if I could kiss him. It was innocent, respectful, exciting, unhurried. Most of all, it was a refreshing change.

My phone rang at 8:30 the next morning. With a thick head, I struggled out of bed to answer it. It was the gentleman calling me from his plane back to London as it waited on the tarmac. He wanted to make sure I got home okay and we chatted for a few minutes before he said goodbye. It was a romantic dream. I felt like the heroine in an old movie.

I’ve known a lot of men in my life, but I’ve seldom been treated so well. My gentleman carried a hankie and the manners of a bygone age, from a time where men and women treated each other with respect. Meeting this man made me think about the differences between seasoned older men and the urgent expectations of younger men; about maturity and experience vs physicality and insecurity. An older man’s politeness, consideration, and charm can be irresistible, and if he’s anything like my guy, it doesn’t hurt if he resembles Gregory Peck.

Survey says

I became fascinated with the idea of older men with younger women and wanted to know how other women felt, so I devised a survey and got the opinions of a handful of women who have had some kind of romantic tie to men at least 15 years their senior. Most women think their older fellas are fantastic, with the exception of one woman who complained of being more of a “nurse-maid” than a romantic partner. That’s a risk that a younger woman might take, I suppose, but overall, women who like older men love older men.

Women found their mature men respectful, polite, handsome, generous, intelligent, kind, affectionate, sensitive, and good conversationalists; the men were not considered pushy, demanding, or materialistic. The majority of women who took the survey found their older men confident, aware, and responsible, and all women recognized the differences between older and younger men.

One woman offered this: “Older men seem to understand that they have to be full participants in a relationship. I’ve also dated younger men (much younger) and found the relationships were hollow and shallow. Older men know who they are, what they want and where they’re going. They are less selfish and self-absorbed. They are also more caring sex partners. I put it all down to older men have more experience with women and therefore are more sensitive to our needs.”

The jaded nurse-maid was the only woman who would not recommend dating older men, and rightly so, but most women agreed that men get better as they age. As one woman said, “Older men have a lot more going for them than we often think.”

Andropause

When men reach their mid-30s and move into their 40s, they enter andropause, also known as man-o-pause, similar to women’s mid-life menopause where hormone levels change and people take on new behaviours. When testosterone levels begin to wane in men, many changes occur – vitality lessens, the sex drive and aggression decreases, and physical agility declines. This can be shocking for some men, but they have a choice to cruise into their golden years with grace.

The following short-term effects of andropause can include:

  • Decreased strength
  • Decreased endurance
  • Dermatological changes
  • Decreased libido
  • Decreased sexual performance
  • Dysphoria (restlessness)
  • Increased anxiety

Added to the effects of testosterone deficiency comes loss of muscle mass that, according to this Huffington Post article, includes higher fat levels as muscle converts to fat, and more fat means testosterone converts to estrogen. Increased estrogen can look like many things like a heavier frame and “man boobs”  (yes, even 007 has developed moobs – have a look at Roger Moore as a senior). Some of these changes may not be welcome, and depending on the man, could be thought of as a defeat, but an increase in estrogen is what makes men more sensitive and better listeners, and this is what the women in the survey found so appealing.

The style of the older gent

Researching for this post, I did a general search for “older men” and had to pick out the rare bits that were not focused on health issues like increased urination, risk of falls, or a preoccupation with the falling libido. I waded through scathing articles written by women about men growing meaner as they get older, terrible sex-crazed articles describing how thirtysomething “older” men should deal with the conniving, sex-obsessed, gold-digging twentysomethings. I was crestfallen to find few articles mentioning the allure of older gentlemen appealing to a woman’s sense of intelligence, and so too, anything about the style of an older gent.

For the Baby Boomers who bore the youthquake movement of the 1960s, their youthful ideals have in the end betrayed them, and we find ourselves in a youth-focused society where older people are almost entirely overlooked. It’s a shame – we miss out on how awesome they are. As a men’s image consultant, I am blessed to work with older men who want to reinvent themselves during the second part of their lives and become the men they’ve always wanted to be. 

We’ve been conditioned to think of aging as a sentence, as a terrible end to life, but it’s all about perspective. Take it from actor/model Gerry Hennessy who, at age 67, would rather talk about style than ill health:

“Surely personal style is one of the choices that define us as individuals,” he says, “It is the wrapping on the package that identifies you as a man who is interesting, interested, fearless and worth knowing. That is why abandoning your sense of style as you age makes as much sense as retiring at 65.

“If only older men took the time to explore and experience the sense of well-being that personal style brings to the life table, then perhaps we would have more things to discuss than the things ageing generally brings. It is a matter of finding inner peace through life’s style choices – I age, therefore I style.”

Further reading: In Praise of Older Men (Elle magazine)

The Myth of Older Men Wanting Younger Women (Huff Post)

Rent older men in Japan!

Man boobs

23 May

Gynecomastia, enlarged male mammaries, also known as” man boobs” or “moobs”, can be a tricky conditionman boobs both physically and psychologically. If you “carrying extra baggage on the top floor”, as Seinfeld’s Kramer would say, read on.

This condition is complex and its origins are difficult to pin down; man boobs happen for many different reasons and different stages of a male’s life.

TIME attributes the condition to aging and also to hormones in adolescent boys, stating, “Nearly half of all men will experience it at some point in their lives, and not necessarily at the end. In fact, it’s most common during adolescence; 65% of boys have it at the age of 13 or 14.”

There are three stages in a male’s life when breasts can develop: infancy, when breast tissue is stimulated by high levels of estradiol and progesterone produced by the mother during pregnancy; in puberty, where hormones are completely out of whack as estrogen levels increase and jockey for position with testosterone; and as men’s testosterone levels decline and body fat increases as he ages, men over 60 experience increased estrogen which may be a factor in developing gynecomastia.

Endotext, a resource for endocrinology (hormone) professionals, explains that a “significant percentage of gynecomastia is caused by medications or exogenous chemicals that result in increased estrogen effect.” This includes some psychoactive drugs (e.g. Diazepam), cardiac and anti-hypertensive medications, drugs for infectious diseases (e.g.  Indinavir, for HIV/AIDS antiretroviral therapy), and illicit drugs like heroin.

No matter what the cause, enlarged mammaries can be psychologically difficult for men and boys to deal with. For some, man boobs can be nothing short of mortifying. I just tried searching “man boobs emotional/social support”, and I get pages of “how to get rid of man boobs” instead of how to reconcile them.

Am I surprised? Not at all. Am I saddened by the lack of support for boobed men? Absolutely.

Moob solutions

Plastic surgery is a drastic option for minimizing man boobs. The procedure removes tissue, scars, and causes pain. It should be the last resort.

According to Muscle & Fitness, part of the moob solution is in diet – easing up on estrogen-producing foods like wheat and grains and instead consuming foods high in monounsaturated fats like avocados, nuts, and olive oil to produce testosterone.  Zinc supplements are also recommended. Talk to a dietitian or a doctor about it.

I asked lifelong athlete and certified personal trainer, Patrick Marano, for exercises men can do to banish the moobs. Patrick suggests three main exercises that focus on building the pectorals, and recommends starting your training with lower weights and higher repetitions, increasing the weight as you get stronger:

1. Bench press: Lie on your back on a weight bench and a lift bar bell up and down slowly. As you move into heavier weights, always have someone “spot” you so there are no accidents!

2. Pectoral fly: Or the “Pec Deck” as Patrick calls it. The act of squeezing the pectorals helps strengthen them. This exercise is done on a weight machine.

3. Classic push up: Be sure you’re in proper form with a straight line from your head through your back to your heels, hands under shoulders. Patrick says to do “as many as you can”  and repeat for 3 – 5 sets. Lower slowly and push up slowly. If this is too challenging, push up from your knees instead of your feet.

Dressing the man boob

Obesity is also a major factor in gynecomastia, but not all heavy men have man boobs. A couple of differently shaped clients of mine have man boobs: one is heavy, rotund, and very confident, and the other is medium-sized, active, and very aware of his moobs (that are smaller in real life than they are in his head).

My job as an image consultant is to help my guys feel and look good in their clothes, so instead of resorting to the outright lie of compression garments to flatten your chest, try these dressing tips:

  • Avoid clingy fabrics that outline and accentuate your bumps and lumps;
  • Avoid heavy cotton sweaters – these tend to “fold” around man boobs when you’re sitting;
  • Wear patterned shirts that move the eye around,  but avoid horizontal stripes if you’re a larger man;
  • Jackets, cardigans, and vests do well to cover your chest excess;
  • Wear clothes that are your correct size – wearing too-big shirts to hide behind won’t do you any favours;
  • Wear a well-fit sleeveless undershirt alone in hot weather or under your shirt to smooth you out and hold you in (yes, men with boobs could use some support too without resorting to “The Bro” or the “Man-sseir”).